John McCain, before he was a politician, was an aviator, and as a result of being shot down, became a warrior. He bore scars for the rest of his life from being tortured (his “thumbs up” signal from elbows high was because he could not raise his hands any higher). When given the opportunity to peace out and go home, as the highest-ranking prisoner the North Vietnamese had, he properly said no, he will be the last to leave, not the first.
He was an accomplice in many ways to the corruption of the Republican party. He signed off on Sarah Palin. He was a total train wreck as a presidential candidate. But he still had character and morals, and when people went full Fox News in front of him, he corrected them.
He was an American, for good and for ill.
Our “president” is something else. And for very obvious reasons, McCain’s experience – when McCain was in a POW camp, Trump was in Studio 54 hitting on models – bothers him. And he doesn’t even know why, because our “president” is a clinical narcissist who cannot bear the thought of someone else having lived a worthy life while he was alive. To him, life itself is zero-sum. He has to destroy him, because people still think better of McCain than he. Despite the fact that he befouled McCain’s most treasured legacy – the Republican party – he still has to floss on the corpse. Because he’s that guy. He has to.
I go on at length about this, primarily because I can’t believe it. I know Republicans, I know Trump supporters. I… I can’t understand. I am not that wildly intelligent. I am not uniquely gifted with empathy and being able to see people. The conclusions I draw in a moment should not be that unique.
Yet, they seem to be.